KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JANUARY 12: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates his … [+]
Finances play a role on every NFL roster, whether the team is successful or not.
The good teams, of course, manage their salary caps better than others. They get big bang for their bucks from young players. The first key is drafting well. Then, getting huge impact from those players, which allows them to spend elsewhere, is essential.
Each of the four teams in the NFL championship game weekend have a major star making a small, relative to their position, salary, which helps tell the story of why they are on the doorstep of the Super Bowl.
Let’s look at the inexpensive stars (they all will be getting huge new contracts fairly soon) playing this weekend:
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Jones
Jones is the least expensive player on this list. The Packers’ standout running back is on the third year of a four-year, $2.62 million deal. He was a fifth-round pick in 2017 (No. 182 overall) out of Texas-El Paso.
Jones is making $645,000 in salary this season. He is a huge bargain. Jones, who scored twice against the Seattle Seahawks in a divisional win over the Seattle Seahawks last week, had 1,084 rushing yards in the regular season and scored 16 touchdowns. He gives the Green Bay offense an element that doesn’t go through star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jones is a big reason why the Packers went 13-3 and are a win at San Francisco away from playing in the Super Bowl. He will be a free agent next year. Expect the Packers to talk to Jones about an extension soon after this season.
Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes is the perfect example of how to build a winner in the NFL. You draft a quarterback, he quickly excels, you build the roster when he is inexpensive and you set up the roster for success for years to come. That’s what is happening in Kansas City.
Mahomes is making $5.2 million this season, which is chump change for a quarterback, nonetheless an elite signal caller. He signed a four-year, $16.4 million deal after being the No. 10 overall draft pick in 2017. Mahomes won the NFL MVP award in 2018, his first season as a starter. He will soon discuss a monster contract with the Chiefs that could/should pay him more than $200 million a year. It will reset the quarterback market. The price is steep for the Chiefs, but well worth it. Not only did they get a franchise quarterback, but they signed several players to extensions why Mahomes was a super bargain. The Chiefs have eight players on the roster who have a salary-cap number more than $10 million this season. It’s the most of any of the four remaining teams.
San Francisco 49ers, George Kittle
Like Jones, Kittle was taken in the fifth round of the 2017 draft (No. 146 overall). Like Jones, he is a critical aspect of his team’s offense. Kittle is an elite tight end and is the heart-and-soul of the 49ers’ offense. He is also a great bargain. He is making $719,000 this season. Next season will be the final of a four-year, $2.69 million deal. Expect the 49ers to try to get a new deal done with Kittle as soon as possible. He’s the type of player teams want to keep for their entire careers.
Tennessee Titans, Derrick Henry
Henry has been the MVP of this postseason so far. Henry, who won the 2019 NFL rushing yardage title, has 377 rushing yards in upset Tennessee wins over New England and Baltimore. A second-rounder in 2016, Henry is making $1.18 million season this season. He is a free agent and he will surely about top-five running back money, at least. The Titans will want to keep their engine, but they have certainly gotten a lot from him for a great price this season.